The Bandier Pop-Up in Toronto at Holts Bloor is on now until January 2018
Timing is everything when it come to launching a successful business, and, clearly, the timing was right for the Founders of Bandier. In just three short years, the husband-and-wife team “with zero retail background” behind Bandier have been able to build a phenomenal business that’s taking the athleisure retail industry by storm.
Hailing from Southampton, New York (AKA, The Hamptons) Bandier has just opened its first ever international pop-up shop, located right here in Toronto at Holt Renfrew Bloor Street. To kick-off the launch, #TeamGC was invited by Holt Renfrew to join a private breakfast inside the spacious pop up hosted by Founding Partners, Jennifer Bandier and Neil Boyarsky. Not only did I take the opportunity to shop before the pop-up officially opened, but I asked the successful pair numerous questions about their thriving business.
Bandier Founder, Jennifer Bandier, is the former manager of R&B trio, TLC.
Best known for their fashion-forward selection of high performance activewear, Neil shared that the concept came from Jennifer’s personal struggle to find stylish workout pieces she wanted to buy in a shop environment that didn’t feel like a bro-y locker room. They had a gut feeling that if her needs weren’t being met in a shopping mecca like New York City, there was a good chance it was missing everywhere else, too. Turns out, they were right.
According to the two of them, the term ‘Athleisure‘ wasn’t one that was being used much at the start of 2014, but by the end of their first year it was all anyone and everyone was talking about — another nod to their epic timing.
Despite both having successful careers prior to launching Bandier (Jennifer as the manager for infamous R&B trio, TLC, and Neil in Finance) neither one of them had any retail experience. Because of this, they opted to launch their brand without an e-commerce platform, and spent 4 months on the floor of their very first pop-up in their hometown of The Hamptons. According to Neil, it was the best retail and business experience they could have ever asked for; giving them the opportunity to get to know their customers, brands and products in a hands-on learning environment in a relatively short amount of time.
After that first summer season, when their Southampton pop-up wrapped, Neil shared that Bandier had moved over 11,000 SKUs (a remarkable amount of product sales) and he and Jennifer started to focus on launching their e-commerce business. Proceeding that, they moved into Manhattan with brick-and-mortar shops, and to date Bandier has five retail locations (2 in NYC, 1 in Manhasset, 1 in Dallas and 1 in Southampton), a modern fitness studio in Manhattan’s Flatiron district called Studio B, and, now, the Bandier pop-up in Toronto that will be open from September 2017 to January 2018 at Holts Bloor.
In case you’re a bit of a newbie to Bandier (as I was, admittedly) their selection of fashion-forward fitness gear includes high quality brands from all over the world, such as one of my personal favourites, MICHI NY.
While the selection at the Bandier Pop-Up at Holts doesn’t include everything you’ll find online, notable brands you can shop in person include MICHI, Spiritual Gangster, FILA, Laiin, Ultracor, and more.
A snap from the VIP breakfast before the Bandier Pop-Up officially opened
According to Jennifer and Neil, the Bandier pop-up in Toronto will be replenished with new styles regularly throughout their 4-month stay. Along with regular visits from the the New York-based couple, customers can also expect in-store activations and events throughout their time at Holts Bloor.
To visit Bandier in Toronto, head to Holt Renfrew’s concourse level at 50 Bloor Street West.